Greg Hatten has been around the world and back again, yet he’s found himself back here at Missouri Western.

Hired for the purpose of rebranding the university, Hatten has had a multitude of prior experiences and jobs that have set him up to come back to his roots and help his hometown.

A St. Joe native, he only ever wanted to work with Hallmark in Kansas City. Though he had an MBA with a journalism undergraduate, that dream job didn’t come easily. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to become the vice president of sales. His 20 year career with the world class brand taught him much about branding and marketing.

Moving on in life, he was taken to the pacific northwest where he became second-in-command of an outdoor retailer. A few years later, he started his consulting firm. For 10 years he has offered his international client base help with bringing products to America. 

Hatten was called back to the midwest and his hometown of St. Joe in order to be with family. He continues to work with his clients from his home in town; with the KCI airport less than an hour away, it’s worked very well for him.

“My client base is all over the world, and I help companies either bring a product to this country, or work with entrepreneurs to launch new products or work with existing brands to relaunch, or rebrand products,” Hatten said. “I've had lots and lots of international clients, thoroughly enjoy what I do. It really is a great combination of past experiences and I work with some amazing folks both as startup companies as well as existing brands.”

Hatten joins the University not a moment too soon. With so many missteps in the past few years when it comes to marketing and branding the school, Hatten brings a new focus. His colleague, Debbie Crisler, calls his perspective inspiring and enthusiastic.

“Greg brings a fresh approach and outlook to MWSU,” Crisler said. “He has hit the ground running from day one and I am excited to see the university reap the benefits of his expertise.”

Hatten has only been working on campus for a few weeks, but his wife and daughter are both Missouri Western graduates. He knows the community well and is making sure to take the time to get to know the students and staff.

“I've only been here for like a month. My first step was to beg for a little patience because I have been listening a lot and I've had lots and lots of meetings,” Hatten said. “I wanted to make sure that I was grounded in the facts and the feelings from students as well as faculty.”

One of the first steps Hatten took in being open and authentic in his work was to open up his email to anyone who had any ideas, questions or concerns. He wasn’t expecting the reaction he received from the community. The passion people have for Missouri Western became evident to Hatten very early on due to this.

“I listen really really closely to the heartbeat of the university, which is the students and the faculty,” Hatten said. “We've set up probably 20 meetings with mostly faculty, but also the president of the student body, just wanting some time to talk about the university, and their ideas for either promoting their own department or the university as a whole, and I didn't see that coming.”

Hatten aims to focus on the idea of authentic marketing. The main thing this entails is to tell the stories that have been looked over. He has taken the time to meet with individuals from many departments on campus. He pointed out the amazing things being done in the biology department that are going unshared.

“They're winning national awards, and nobody knows about that,” Hatten said. “I mean I literally fell out of my chair. These are the stories that are authentic, you're not making anything up it's just bringing those things to light.”

Emily Arrocha, a marketing major, thinks that the much needed rebrand will help to dramatically change the image of campus for the community.

“A rebrand will help put Missouri Western into a more positive light by showing that we are a tight community and we represent the city of St. Joseph,” Arrocha said. “We all may be from different places, but we all call Missouri Western a home for most of the time.”

Hatten has a flip chart in his office; 20 or so pages are dedicated to ideas on how to connect Missouri Western to the greater St. Joseph community. 

“I think we could do a better job as a university reaching out to the community and the community could do a better job probably of reaching out and collaborating with us as a university. Historically, I think there has been kind of a distance that I've never quite understood, but there are a lot of things that we can do to improve that.”

In a brainstorming session, Hatten and his team came up with dozens of creative ideas to get the community involved. Propositions include: a local restaurant creating a ‘Griffon Burger’, a community garden on campus and even a MWSU inspired ale.

Another idea Hatten is implementing is a social media handbook for staff who are unsure how to use online platforms to promote their work and the work of their students. He encourages those who are willing to take on a bigger media presence for the university to stick to the positive and to roll with the authentic marketing strategy.

“It's really easy to forget about all the positive things that are going on because the headlines are, you know, about disaster and doom and gloom,” Hatten said. “If I had one wish for my work here, it would be to represent authentic marketing of neglected stories.”

As Missouri Western moves on from the COVID-19 era, it’s important for everyone to view the future as a fresh start. Everyone has a story to tell and in Hatten’s eyes that’s the best way to market our university to the world. 

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